Literature’s greatest works are yours for free!

Julie Styles, SCIS Cataloguing Librarian, explores the Project Gutenberg ebook library.

Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitise and archive the world’s cultural works and make them available in ebook form for free. To date, it has over 60,000 free ebooks on its database. On average it adds 50 new ebooks each week.

It’s collection features mostly older literary works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Most were published before 1924, with some published in the decades after.

You will find some of the world’s great literature at https://www.gutenberg.org/

Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, Homer, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, the Brothers Grimm, Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare, and Emily Bronte are all available in multiple ebook forms for free.

In addition to novels, poetry, short stories and drama, the database also has cookbooks, reference works and issues of periodicals. You can also find a smaller collection of sheet music, audiobooks, still pictures, and moving pictures, including footage of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

Although Project Gutenberg primarily has works of literature from Western culture, there are also significant numbers in many other languages. Non-English languages most represented are French, German, Finnish, Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese.

You can use the Search box to look for a particular title or browse titles by a favourite author.

Project Gutenberg

The Bookshelves allow you to browse by genre, age group, and topic. And if you are undecided where to begin there are Top 100 lists of titles to get you started.

Top 100 lists Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg and SCIS

SCIS has made catalogue records for nearly 400 of these titles.

The best way to locate them in SCIS Data is to do an advanced search of the phrase ‘Project Gutenberg’, choosing Publisher field, and the exact phrase from the drop-down options.

Each record contains a convenient link to the resource on the Project Gutenberg database. Once at the resource, you should find multiple ebook formats to access.

SCIS Data record

Project Gutenberg record for Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

If you want a title on Project Gutenberg, that we have not already made a record for, simply go to our online cataloguing request system and request the ebook:  https://my.scisdata.com/CreateCatalogueRequest

Once you have mastered the international Project Gutenberg website you may also be interested in the Australian digitised collection at http://gutenberg.net.au/

Enjoy searching through this treasure trove!

Digital content curation: How to do it right!

Written by Dr Kay Oddone 

COVID-19 has transformed daily life in a matter of weeks.

We are working from home, communicating online and wondering when everything will go back to normal.

One of the few positive aspects of this pandemic has been the almost overwhelming outpouring of online resources, strategies and tools that have been shared at an intense rate among educators in Facebook groups, via Twitter and through countless other digital networks.

Teachers the world over are scrambling to adjust to a new reality where face-to-face classrooms do not exist. Transitioning to online learning is challenging at any time, and for everyone, however many have been asked to adopt a whole new way of teaching over a period of days (and sometimes even hours).

As teacher librarians, our job has always been to curate resources and to generate usable collections of credible and useful sites and tools to support the teachers at our school. Now, more than ever, content curation has become a focal point. Teacher librarians are trained to quickly and effectively critically analyse and evaluate learning materials in a way that teachers may not. That being the case, it is more vital than ever before to assist them to navigate the tsunami of information flooding every communication channel by creating curated content.

As teacher librarians, our job has always been to curate resources and to generate usable collections of credible and useful sites and tools to support the teachers at our school.

How do we curate content?

There are many tools available that enable us to quickly compile lists of digital resources. You can read about how to select the best tool for the job here: linkinglearning.com.au/choosing-a-curation-tool.

Using these tools effectively requires skills in ‘content curation’. Traditionally, the term ‘curator’ refers to someone who looks after objects in a museum exhibition. A popular definition of content curation is the act of selecting and collating digital content and organising it so that it may be better used to meet a particular need. Beth Kanter has an excellent primer on content curation, where she hastens to point out that curation is not simply an aggregation of links; it is a process of strategic collection, where what is left out is just as important as what is included. It is also an editorial process, where context-specific knowledge is added to each digital resource, and then delivered via a tool that best suits the needs of the identified audience.

This sounds more complex than it is. It simply means finding quality digital content, evaluating it for a particular purpose, adding extra information for those most likely to use this context for that particular purpose, and sharing it with those users via the most suitable platform.

 

How do we avoid the pitfalls?

One vital difference between curation in the past and dealing with digital content is the sheer amount of information, and the need to avoid filter bubbles and the temptation to simply collect everything. Joyce Seitzinger describes some of the traits to avoid when curating very succinctly, in her presentation, ‘When educators become curators’.

 

She describes these traits as follows:

The hoarder: One who collects everything indiscriminately, who doesn’t organise their content, and who doesn’t share — this is really closer to simple aggregation than curation.

The scrooge: One who similarly hoards their information — although they may organise their collection, they don’t share either — one of the key purposes of educational content curation!

The tabloid (or National Enquirer): One who indiscriminately collates everything together, and generously shares this aggregation, whether others want/need it or not!

The robot: One who uses tools to share automatically, with no context-related additions or value-adding — in this case, the curation is really no better than providing a list of Google search results.

Avoiding these pitfalls is what differentiates the effective content curator from those simply ‘collecting’ content.

What are the benefits?

Aside from creating a resource that will be gratefully received by an overwhelmed teacher, a curated collection has many long-lasting benefits that far outweigh simply listing sites or gathering countless links.

A curated collection has many long-lasting benefits that far outweigh simply listing sites or gathering countless links.

Firstly, with so much content being generated daily on social media, resources not curated could easily never be found again. When content is officially published, details such as the title, author’s name, subject headings, ISBN etc (ie the metadata) are attached — either printed on the item or electronically attached. This makes it easy to find and re-find.

User-created content may not have this type of metadata and, if it does, it might not be meaningful for searching. It might be a photograph with no title, a recipe for chilli that someone has shared on Tumblr with the hashtags ‘#yummy’ and ‘#dinnernextmonday’, or a list of sites posted in a Facebook conversation. Curating these resources and adding meaningful annotations and tags will mean that they can be searched for time and time again.

Secondly, while effective searching will return a lot of content, Google will simply not find everything. You may be searching for an item that is sitting somewhere Google doesn’t access — not only lots of social media content but also sites that require a login, like a journal database or library catalogue. You may have seen it once — briefly appearing on your Twitter stream, perhaps when the author published it — but this is the only time you will see it unless you go directly back to that source. Curating useful items makes them discoverable by all of your library users! Even if you can’t link directly to the source within the database, linking to the paywall gives you enough information to access it again if you decide that you really need it.

Finally, digital curation allows you to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ and to take advantage of the wonderful sharing that is happening by giving you the opportunity to create a resource that will continue to support teachers even after calm has been restored.

Digital content curation goes beyond a simple save and is far more than just collecting. It is when we strategically select an item to be added to a collection, which is being compiled for a specific purpose. Collecting is additive but, interestingly, curation is subtractive — what you leave out is almost more important than what you include. A great way to think about collection and curation is described by Frank Chimero in his post about sorting a mass.

Consider collection as a bowl of loose pearls and curation as a pearl necklace. Collection is like a bowl of pearls. The individual pearls may be of great value, but they are pretty useless just gathered together in the bowl. Curation is what happens when particular pearls are selected from the bowl, and strung into a beautiful necklace. The pearls now have a purpose — they have been carefully selected and added to the necklace in a particular order. The necklace, which has fewer pearls than the bowl, but which can be publicly admired and worn, is worth more than the sum of its parts.

When we curate content, we add an annotation to each item, to explain to others why this piece was chosen, and how it fits within the collection. This makes the individual items more meaningful for others and brings the collection together as a whole resource.

When you have a collection of random links, the individual items may be useful, but the list itself means nothing. A carefully curated collection is a resource that stands alone. It can be useful to you — when you go back to these resources, your annotation will remind you of why you saved it and how it will be useful — and it will be of value to others if they are seeking an overview/introduction/entry into a topic. Creating a curated collection also makes a group of resources easily shareable and useable — it will ‘travel’ with you as it will (more often than not) exist online, and be publicly accessible to you and others whenever you need it.

Applying curation principles also allows us to create a resource that a teacher can pick up and use with confidence, as they know that the links included have been carefully selected to suit their teaching context.

I’ve written a lot on curation over the years, and the reason is that I believe that as our collections morph into a digital-physical hybrid, curation will become just as, if not more important than collection development. It will allow us as teacher librarians to remix physical and digital resources to become accessible to our community in new ways. COVID-19 has transformed the world in so many ways, but for teacher librarians, it has offered us an amazing opportunity to show everyone not only what value we can add, but also that students (and teachers) need school libraries! Now more than ever!

COVID-19 has transformed the world in so many ways, but for teacher librarians, it has offered us an amazing opportunity to show everyone not only what value we can add, but also that students (and teachers) need school libraries! Now more than ever!

A word about content curation and copyright

Creative Commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) Flickr photo shared by Austin Kleon

Although curation is not ‘theft’, all of the tips that Austin Kleon shares in his book, Steal like an artist — itself a treatise on reusing online content ethically — apply to ethical content curation.

Always link directly back to the source when curating. This is automatically taken care of when you use a curation tool such as elink. However, I believe that it is good practice that if you find a site that references a great idea or image, rather than simply linking to that site, take the trouble to go back to the original creator’s publication of that idea, and link to there. An example:

A popular blog shares a post about a great resource they have discovered, which is created by a third party. Rather than linking to the blog post when curating the link about the great resource, take the time to go back to the third party’s original post and curate this link. Therefore, the creator gets correct attribution, rather than the blogger who wrote about it.

This is particularly important when curating from pages that include articles like ‘10 great tools for x’ — these are aggregations themselves of original work and not the original creation.

Copyright is all about protecting the income of the creator; therefore, ensure that nothing you publish in a curated list directs users away from the original, particularly if the original is a source of income for that creator. Always ensure that you attribute or reference where you sourced the original content from (again, something most content curation tools do automatically, but good to remember) and, wherever possible, ensure there is no way that users of your collections might mistake others’ work for your own.

Curating widely from various sources, rather than wholesale replication of others’ work on your own pages is also good practice, not only to avoid the risk of plagiarism but also to ensure you are providing a resource with a breadth of perspectives and information.

How are you curating resources that you discover? Let’s keep the discussion going!

Updated 6 April 2020.

Dr Kay Oddone is an educator who has spent over twenty years working in Primary, Secondary and Tertiary contexts. As Head of Libraries at Australian International School in Singapore, she leads the four school libraries on the campus, and is also the Secondary School Teacher Librarian, supporting over 1000 students and approximately 250 staff. She is passionate about digital literacies, critical digital pedagogies and open educational practices, and has published research on how teachers enhance their professional learning through online personal learning networks. 

Kay loves reading, nerding out online and travelling, and spends her free time walking her Jack Russell, Ruby, and discovering restaurants in her new neighbourhood. She can be found on Twitter @KayOddone and blogs at www.linkinglearning.com.au

Australia Day

Australia Day, January 26, is considered to be a commemoration of nationhood by many Australians. For other Australians, however, it marks a deep loss – of sovereignty, family and culture. Here are some titles from the SCIS catalogue which look at the clash between European settlers and the Aboriginal peoples:

1788 to 1809 : from First Fleet to Rum Rebellion by Victoria MacLeay ; [edited by Lynn Brodie].(SCIS No. 1552979).  The first 22 years of the colonisation of Australia began with the arrival of the First Fleet and ended with the aftermath of the only military insurrection Australia has ever experienced. This book covers the major events: the arrival at Botany Bay, the settlement at Sydney Cove, the battle to survive, heroic explorations, and tensions between the new arrivals and indigenous peoples. ISBN 9780864271136

A commonwealth of thieves: the improbable birth of Australia by Thomas Keneally. (SCIS No. 1627531)
The history of the first four years of the convict settlement of Australia. Using personal journals and documents, Keneally re-creates the overseas voyage and the challenges Governor Arthur Phillips faced upon arrival: unruly convicts, disgruntled officers, bewildered and hostile natives, food shortages and disease. He also offers portrayals of Aborigines and convict settler. ISBN 9781400079568

That deadman dance by Kim Scott.(SCIS No. 1595239)
Told through the eyes of black and white, this is a story about a fledgling Western Australian community in the early 1800s, known as the “friendly frontier”. It shows that the first contact did not have to lead to war. ISBN 9781408829288

Rethinking settler colonialism : history and memory in Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand and South Africa  edited by Annie E. Coombes (SCIS No. 1638689)
Focuses on the long history of contact between indigenous peoples and the white colonial communities who settled in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa. Looks at how histories of colonial settlement have been mythologised, narrated, and embodied in these countries in the twentieth century. ISBN 9780719071690

A failure to understand: early colonialism and the indigenous peoples by Margaret McPhee. (SCIS No. 1659262).  A look at the monumental clash between European colonalism and the Aboriginal peoples; from the first tentative and difficult interactions of the early explorers to the arrival of the First Fleet. ISBN 9781742455136

The Australian frontier wars 1788-1838 by John Connor  (SCIS No 1112716).  From the Swan River to the Hawkesbury, and from the sticky Arnhem Land mangrove to the soft green hills of Tasmania, this book describes the major conflicts fought on the Australian frontier to 1838.  ISBN 0868407569

The other side of the frontier: Aboriginal resistance to the European invasion of Australia by Henry Reynolds (SCIS No. 1311253). The publication of this book in 1981 profoundly changed the way in which we understand the history of relations between indigenous Australians and European settlers. ISBN 0868408921

Forgotten war by Henry Reynolds (SCIS No. 1623535).  Australia is dotted with memorials to soldiers who fought in wars overseas, but there are no official commemorations of the battles fought on Australian soil between Aborigines and white colonists. ISBN 9781742233925

The Black War : fear, sex and resistance in Tasmania by Nicholas Clements (SCIS No. 1659002)
Between 1825 and 1831 close to 200 Britons and 1000 Aborigines died violently in Tasmania’s Black War. It was by far the most intense frontier conflict in Australia’s history, yet many Australians know little about it. ISBN 9780702250064

All images and summaries provided by SCIS Syndetics

The Australian frontier wars
The Australian frontier wars
That deadman dance
That deadman dance
Commonwealth of thieves
Commonwealth of thieves
The other side of the frontier
The other side of the frontier

The 21st century library

In the 21st century school libraries need to consider their spaces, the role of the teacher librarian, and the move to digital content and access in the age of BYOD (Bring your own device). In Australian schools, demonstration of the value of the school library to principals and school councils is essential as they look at resourcing the Australian Curriculum.

‘What do teacher librarians teach’ by Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones  is an excellent infographic to highlight the  multifaceted role of teacher librarians. Evaluating resources is an important focus for teacher librarians, as is digital citizenship, and educating students about  plagiarism.  Increasingly, teacher librarians are working with classroom teachers to develop their students’ capacity to identify and ask good questions, and to improve study and research skills.

Modern school library design may look more to the contemporary approach of buildings such as Trinity Grammar’s Tudor Centre, which brings together library, curriculum, and technology staff.

In the age of BYOD students are not necessarily accessing the same information at the same time. For students and staff 24/7 access to resources is important, as is providing resources in a variety of formats: print, e-book, DVD, audiobook and digital video library. Identification of suitable apps for teacher resources and for use by students is  featuring increasingly.  While we may be seeing a drop in the use of our non-fiction print collections this may not be a matter of student preference.  Content and relevancy are important regardless of format.

In most schools the school library catalogue is the only place where users can search for school-owned/licensed resources all in one place. School library catalogues provide access to learning resources for the school community.  While students and teachers can use a search engine to find millions of online resources, this search will return everything online EXCEPT the very resources that the school or system has actually selected and paid for.

The student or staff member seeking books, information, and learning resources expects to do one search and for that search to return all the relevant material available to them, regardless of its format or its location.  Single point of search assumes an integrated set of search results, which requires integrated metadata.

21st century, next generation library systems will need to include digital rights management, a seamless secure single sign-on, and federated searching across a variety of resources, databases and collections.  Next generation systems will need the ability to connect with  a variety of devices and, increasingly, to provide a personalised service similar to the Amazon or Google experience.

This is why making digital content discoverable through school library catalogues is essential.
For a long time a priority for library staff has been to organise the physical library space in ways that are attractive and encourage users to visit and explore, as well as making it easy for them to find what they need, and assist browsing for inspiration. We work to make location and lending of resources as seamless and self-servicing as possible. We now have additional responsibilities. As well as serving our users who are visitors, browsers and borrowers of physical items in a physical library space, we now need to serve our library users accessing and downloading resources in virtual spaces.

Bus wrapped with SAP Big Data by IntelFreePress http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
Bus wrapped with SAP Big Data by IntelFreePress http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

Collections for connected learning

The Australian School Library Association national conference took place in the Term 3, 2013 school holidays in Hobart.

SCIS Manager, Pru Mitchell facilitated a workshop on the future of library collections, asking:

  • Is a collection of resources fundamental to the school library’s role?
  • What priority should be given to balanced, professionally selected and managed collections in emerging learning environments?

The workshop considered the assumptions behind these questions, reviewed the changes taking place in school library collections, and discussed associated resource and information management challenges.

Collections pre-survey

What issues are schools facing in resourcing the curriculum?

During 2013 SCIS has been conducting informal surveying of school library staff who attend workshops, asking them the free text question:
What are your current collection issues?

This survey closed at the end of Term 3 with a total of 85 respondents. The results were then coded, revealing what the researcher saw as 16 distinct issues.
While the frequency of each category being mentioned in a response is shown in the table below, the goal of the pre-survey was to collect a range of responses from which to prepare a more in-depth survey. The fact that respondents were attending a cataloguing professional learning activity at the time of completing this survey question, may well explain the high occurrence of ‘cataloguing’ as an issue.

What are your current collection issues survey responses
Collection issues survey responses. Sep 2013

 

Categories

  • cataloguing 14%
    catalogue records for resources are unavailable or unsatisfactory
  • e-resources 13%
    e-resources are not available,  or not managed or used appropriately
  • time 9%
    time to manage resources is limited and/or wasted
  • library system 7%
    system does not meet school’s needs
  • promotion 7%
    resources are not promoted to staff and students
  • budget 6%
    budget for resources is inadequate
  • staff 6%
    staff responsible for managing resources are not doing this effectively or do not exist
  • technology 6%
    technology required to use curriculum resources is not available and/or inadequate
  • search 5%
    finding what resources the school has, and where they are located, is difficult
  • weeding 5%
    weeding of resources does not occur regularly
  • access 4%
    access to resources is inadequate
  • age of collection 4%
    outdated resources are retained
  • balance 4%
    balance between print and digital resources is lacking
  • collection use 4%
    staff and students do not use school resources
  • OPAC use 3%
    staff and students do not use OPAC to find resources
  • professional learning 3%
    professional learning in resourcing the curriculum required

 What’s next?

You can contribute to the next stage of this research by responding to the survey at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/scisresearch.